Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is B.J. Upton A Fit For The Braves?

With the rumors circulating around that the Braves are "making a push" for B.J. Upton, I decided to take a look at Upton versus the Braves incumbent centerfielder, Michael Bourn.

(Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America)
Since being acquired from the Astros in the summer of 2011, Michael Bourn has become a fan favorite in Atlanta. His speed and defense gave the Braves a look at the top of their lineup they haven't seen since the Rafael Furcal days. Bourn also filled the void in centerfield left by Andruw Jones after the 2007 season. Mark Kotsay, Jordan Schafer, and Nate McLouth all had their chances, but either didn't produce at the level the Braves needed or had injury issues.

When the Braves traded prospects Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu, and Jordan Schafer for Bourn many felt like the Braves got a steal when you consider what the Astros received for Hunter Pence. With his agent being Scott Boras, the Braves knew the odds were slim that could extend him before he reached free agency and that brings us to B.J. Upton. 

Since Michael Bourn no longer fits into the Braves budget, they have (according to sources) set their sights on B.J. Upton. Some fans want to point to his low batting average or low on-base percentage, but let's compare his stats to those of Michael Bourn. 

I want to do a blind eye test here, just for the sake of making this argument better:

Player A: .274/.348/.391 .739 OPS 99 OPS+ 42 SB 13 CS 104 wRC+

Player B: .246/.298/.454 .752 OPS 109 OPS+ 31 SB 6 CS 107 wRC+

Player "A" is Michael Bourn and Player "B" is B.J. Upton. 

Earlier, I mentioned how some fans want to point to Upton's lower on-base and batting average, but he makes up for that with a higher slugging percentage. He also possesses the same speed threat as Bourn, but he gets thrown out at much lower rate. 

There's also something else B.J. Upton could bring the Braves and that's a nice speed/power threat from the right side. With a lefty heavy lineup, Upton could break up Heyward and Freeman. Andrelton Simmons, Martin Prado, Dan Uggla, and B.J. Upton would give the Braves a nice mix of right handed batters. 

The only real downside to B.J. Upton against Michael Bourn, would be on the defensive side of things. Without overloading on stats, Michael Bourn is an elite defender. B.J. Upton isn't in the same ballpark as Bourn on defense, but he certainly won't embarrass himself out there either. 

Both batters strikeout at high rates (Bourn 21.3%) (Upton 26.7%), but far too often Michael Bourn seemed to be a leadoff hitter who couldn't get on base. With B.J. Upton, you're at least getting a guy who is a legitimate 30/30 player and when you throw in Jason Heyward, it would be great having two guys in the same lineup who are potential 30/30 players. 

I think the Braves would be wise to make an offer to B.J. Upton. Josh Hamilton is too pricey and the other candidates wouldn't bring what B.J. Upton could bring the Braves. He may not be the "perfect fit", but who is in this free agent class? The Braves would be getting a player who is in their prime and could benefit from not only changing leagues, but also having a change of scenery. 

We'll see what Frank Wren and the Braves decide to do, but I think B.J. Upton would be a nice addition to the Braves. 


  1. Thank you for a comment in your second to last paragraph: "He may not be the 'perfect fit', but who is in this free agent class?"

    I couldn't agree more. To be honest, we can sit here are find and magnify every flaw of every OF available...even Bourn. We're not gonna sign Willie Mays! I feel Upton's right handed presence will greatly help the ATL lineup. With greater protection behind him his OBP will rise. He is a legitimate 30/30 candidate. We also have to remember that he won't be penciled in at leadoff. I think that we should go after Victorino or have Prado or Simmons fill the role.

    I'd love to see BJ in ATL.

    1. Thank you for reading and thanks for the comment. Sure, B.J. has his flaws, but I can't see a perfect fit in this FA class. To me, Upton has the most upside and he wouldn't be asked to set the table. I agree and I could see Prado easily fitting in the leadoff spot.

      I guess we'll see what Frank Wren and the Braves do, but in a not so great FA class, I think Upton makes the most sense.

  2. Very good article....It is too bad that Josh Hamilton is out of the Braves' price range.


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